Saturday, February 25, 2017

Kay and Kenny and free passes and strikeouts

If only the regular season could be as much fun as watching yesterday's Grapefruit opener. It was great to see the kids play and watch guys who don't run the bases like 700-car freight trains. The homers were great, too.

On YES, Kay and Singleton made some interesting comments, to boot. One, they brought up individual cases where traditional intentional walks resulted in some exciting baseball, now of course relegated to history. Two, they explicitly talked about baseball's acceptance of players who strike out with wild abandon as long as they put up power numbers; i.e., you can strike out 200+ times every season, but if you hit 40 home runs, you'll be showered with millions. This goes hand in hand with the "batting .220 with an OBP of .225 is good as long as you hit 30/40/whatever dingers" crowd that has had some support here in the comments gallery. That's the line of thinking that excuses Tex/McCann/God/Bebe Rebozo for constantly hitting into the shift unproductively because to go the other way would be "tampering with the pull-hitting style that makes them oh-so-valuable." 

Me, I'd still rather have five guys with 10 or 15 HRs who get on base like crazy and bat .310 or better. Ichiro, for instance, is derided by some people as a "singles hitter," but if you had three or four of him and three or four Rod Carews or maybe Ty Cobbs, you're going to win a lot of games. The key to Moneyball, believe in it or not, is that getting on base a lot, one after another after another, is more important than power, and striking out a lot or hitting into the shift kills most of your chances to score and run the other team ragged, pitchers and fielders alike.

Kay and Kenny...and I hate to say it, but I think Kay was the more vocal of the two...nailed these developments, which are ultimately not good for the game, imo. What's a little ironic is that the new free pass rule is meant to speed up the game, while the acceptance of guys who strike out a lot slows it down considerably. As does the number of commercials between innings--the biggest reason games last so long--which Kay/Kenny also brought up, with Kay boldly stating that even if MLB begins allowing sponsor patches on uniforms, it will only be to make even more money rather than to reduce the "need" for so many commercials.

Of course, it is Spring Training. I assume once the real season starts, it will be verboten to point out the greed and highly questionable judgement of MLB, its owners, and other fonts of wisdom. At least, if they want to keep their jobs. But it was nice to hear Kay, especially, show some of the form that made him an interesting game analyst on Yankees radio in the distant past, before he became the bland character he is now on YES.

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Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside said...

I'm listening to John and Suzyn right now and it's like winter never happened.

Local Bargain Jerk said...

I'm listening to John and Suzyn right now and it's like winter never happened

I drove through upstate New York on late Friday afternoon. It was 77 degrees in February and I agree.

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joe de pastry said...

The key to Moneyball was spotting under-valued stats. One of the most significant distinctions was that OBP was more important than batting average, and therefore, walks were under-valued. One of the weaknesses in Suzuki's game was that he rarely walked, so looking at batting average alone made him seem more valuable than he was. Furthermore, Bill James, the guru of Moneyball star Billy Beane, recognized the importance of HR as well as OBP. Simple logic: three walks/singles get you as many runs as one HR, and two walks followed by a single get you one run, compared to the three runs you get from two walks followed by a HR.
But to be clear, I'm not denying that Suzuki was an excellent player, when you also consider his defense and speed. I'm saying he was overrated because he rarely walked or hit for power.

el duque said...

Michael Kay's 20-year descent into banality is one of the saddest evolutionary developments in the Yankiverse. Inside him, I believe there is still a journalist, waiting and wanting to say something.

I bet The Master will also speak out against the intentional walk ban.

We should market tee-shirts that say, "SAVE THE INTENTIONAL WALKS."